District officials did not disclose details of that probe, but said the results were being turned over to the Oklahoma County District Attorney, the state Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.
As Oklahoma Gazette first reported in June, several administrators and teachers fired by Staples alleged that he falsified records of students’ grades and attendance. They claimed that Staples did so to keep Douglass off a state list of at-risk schools. A special outside investigator, selected by the district school board, began looking into the accusation last summer.
The DA’s office has not yet received the report. First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said it could be a few weeks before the investigation is reviewed.
If a criminal charge results from the report, Rowland said, it would be an unusual situation for the prosecutor’s office. “Staples is already a victim in one case we’re handling,” he said.
In March 2010, the principal was assaulted in Douglass’ parking lot. That beating led to the arrest of Mohammed, the 32-year-old son of Marcia Muhammad, a Douglass assistant principal subsequently fired by Staples and one of his chief accusers. Two other men were also arrested for the attack.
‘The last laugh’
The announcement of Staples’ resignation, which takes effect Nov. 15, came two weeks after the district placed him on administrative leave.
“Our independent investigation is complete,” said Karl Springer, district superintendent. “We we will do everything possible to protect the integrity of the Douglass students, staff and community.”
Staples’ accusers said they were pleased with the outcome.
“We got the last laugh,” said Raynetta Jamison-Dennis, among the group who had pressed the school board to approve an investigation. “They laughed at us and called us dummies.”
Marcia Muhammad stressed that the resignation doesn’t end the matter. She said Springer and Angela Monson, chairwoman of the school board, should be held accountable for moving too slowly on the accusations. Muhammad said the fired schoolteachers took their complaints to Springer as early as 2009.
Charges of racism
A Staples supporter, Douglass drama teacher Tinasha LaRaye Williams, went public with her support several weeks ago in a YouTube video titled “Hear My Voice.” In it, she accused the fired teachers, most of whom are black, of being racist (Staples is white.)
The 19-minute video shows Williams silently holding up flip cards of written statements that defend Staples and detail the unique challenges at Douglass.
Williams, a former Miss Black Oklahoma, did not respond to Oklahoma Gazette’s request for comment. Earlier, she told KFOR Channel 4 that Staples is not the villain he is has been made out to be.
“There has been a race card pulled,” she told the station.
The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was among those who had pushed for an investigation of Staples.
Muhammad bristled at the suggestion that allegations were racially charged.
“What is racist about wanting students of color in high-risk schools to receive an education?” she said.
At Douglass, she added, athletics are given precedence over education and student athletes are given passing grades when they haven’t earned them, to keep them eligible to play.
Springer also referred to sports at Douglass when he announced last week that Staples was stepping down.
“The investigation did not find any infractions that would affect athletic eligibility at Douglass Mid-High School,” he said.
The superintendent named a three-person administration team to replace Staples: Howard Walker, who will be the middle school dean of students; Joyce Henderson, who will be an academic consultant through the fall semester; and Barbara Davis, who will be the school’s interim principal.
“I am confident, because of the steps we are taking, that Douglass will emerge stronger and even better able to serve the students, parents and community,” Springer said.
Hey! Read This:
- The OKC school district begins investigating charges of grade-tampering by a high school principal.
- Protesters greeted students at the first day of class of Douglass High School.
- The Douglass High School principal is placed on administrative leave pending an investigation on charges of grade-tampering.